The past year of the pandemic has been a very difficult year filled with many new changes and hardships that will transform the lives of many forever. Isolation and quarantine are not meant for human beings to endure for long periods of time and it is evident in the recently released mental health statistics for March 2020-March 2021. As a way to cope with the uncertainty of daily life due to the coronavirus, many looked for happiness and joy ranging from taking daily walks, finding new hobbies, making new recipes, and the one that seems to be the most common: adopting pets.
There has been a significant boom of pet adoptions since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Dogs, cats, reptiles, hamsters, and many more other creatures were being adopted in hopes to help bring glimpses of joy, happiness, and comfort during a time of such uncertainty and hopelessness.
An article in the Washington Post reported that “Some shelters and humane rescue groups are seeing double the typical number of requests from people to adopt dogs since the pandemic hit the United States in early spring.” An organization mentioned in this article, Last Chance Animal Rescue, has experienced the effects of the increase demand in pets during the course of the pandemic: “Last Chance saw its pet adoptions — mostly dogs — increase 30 to 40 percent last year over 2019. Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Arlington said it expected to finish 2020 helping about 3,385 pets find homes, up from about 1,800 the year before.”
Pets offer many benefits to humans that can affect both the mental and physical health, both of which suffered during the coronavirus pandemic. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation Poll, nearly half of Americans report that the coronavirus is harming their mental health. This statistic alone serves as a perfect example of the need for comfort and support during this time. Due to this, people were finding comfort through their pets and were receiving health benefits from that companionship.
An article from HelpGuide stated, “Pets, especially dogs and cats, can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve your cardiovascular health.” Pets have the power to ease the pain of isolation through their companionship and strong loyalty.
The increase of the adoption of pets is very evident throughout the McNicholas community, where many welcomed new members into their family during this past year.
Science teacher Jonathan Spurlock adopted several pets during the pandemic including their dog named Josie, a cat named Simone (Mo), and another cat named Miles. “We always had animals and lost our cat a year before the pandemic so we wanted to add some creatures and we certainly had the time to look. We also wanted a dog but needed to wait until the time was right with having young kids in the house. We have the time to be at home to help with training and such, so it made it an easier transition,” Spurlock said.
Sophomore Kaylee Scott and her family adopted a Boxer named Remington over the course of the pandemic. Scott stated, “He was a surprise gift by my parents a few months after my dog passed.”
Senior Mary Nelson explained how she got her dog, Monty, during the first lockdown.
Nelson said, “We were bored because of lockdown and decided to get a puppy from the shelter. He was an orphan puppy.”
Visual Arts teacher Bea Gardner got many temporary barn kittens during the course of the pandemic. “Mama Kitty’s new name is Harley Rose. Baby Kitty is still ‘Baby Kitty.’ Boy Kitty was originally named Jasper, but it did not stick. He has been renamed Romeo.”
Romeo was one of three pets Gardner accumulated over the course of the pandemic. “Romeo has been with us for about 4 weeks now. He is a total love sponge. He loves to curl up on my lap. He meets me at the door every day. He drools when we pet him,” Gardner said.
Another pet Gardner is fostering is a cat named Harley Rose. “Harley Rose ‘Angel’ is currently living/being fostered in a wonderful home. She loves warm hugs,” Gardner stated.
Gardner stated, “Baby Kitty is not part of a larger kitty pack. She is as rambunctious as the four lovely little people that shower love on her.”
Sophomore Karleen Leibreich got the unique pet of a chameleon named Smee. “Smee is a veiled chameleon. We bought him because I wanted a reptile that would be able to be in my room. He doesn’t like being touched by anyone but me and loves crickets and super worms,” Leibreich said.
Freshman Remington Holder explained his cat named Shadow. Holder said, “My pandemic pet is a grey cat. Her name is Shadow and we bought her during this time to offer a little companionship around the house while my parents were working from home and while I was doing school online at the end of the year.”
“She brought me a lot of joy just around the house during the pandemic. She served as a good companion to hang out with and play with during the pandemic. The slight downside from the pandemic though is that since I was home all day before and could play with her throughout the day and can’t do that now, when I get home after school, she is full of energy and bouncing off the walls,” Holder stated.
Senior Olivia Rohling explained the reason she got her dog, Daisy. Rohling said, “We thought it would be a good time to get a puppy because we were all working from home, and she needed to be rescued.”
Rohling stated, “My family adopted Daisy from Peppermint Pig Thrift and Gift on Beechmont last May. We were thinking of getting another dog, and the pandemic was a great time to do so since we were all home. [Though, she is incredibly clingy now, Rohling added.] She’s such a snuggler. And we named her Daisy because my other dog’s name is Gatsby. She definitely added some love during isolation.”
Sophomore Naomi Preuett described her cat, Fork. “My old cat, Luna, passed away, so we got Fork to keep our other cat company,” Preuett said.
Freshman Taylor Smyth got a puppy named Toby during the pandemic. “My family thought that getting a pet during that time would be a good way to bring our family closer together during a time that seems very separated,” Smyth said.
“Toby is a 3-month old Golden Retriever. He loves eating bananas, laying outside, and eating rocks,” Smyth stated.
This year may have been one of the worst years of many people’s lives; however, for many pets it was the best year they have ever had. Many pets received new homes while other pets got to spend all day with their owners. The coronavirus allowed everyone around the world to finally appreciate and enjoy the many pets in their lives.